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Natto Data Cooked

KTV used doctored natto data / Show hailing beans for diets made up findings, may be terminated

OSAKA--A TV program that aired on Jan. 7 and claimed that natto fermented soybeans can help people lose weight--and sparked a run on natto at stores around the country--was based on incorrect information, the show's producer said Saturday.

Speaking at a press conference, Kansai Telecasting Corp. (KTV) President Soichiro Chigusa apologized and said the program would be taken off the air indefinitely.

The show "Hakkutsu! Aru Aru Daijiten II" (Encyclopedia of Living) is produced by Osaka-based KTV and broadcast nationwide on the Fuji TV network.

Many stores across the nation sold out of natto after the program, which claimed that some people could lose weight by eating a serving of natto for breakfast and dinner everyday for two weeks, had been aired.

According to KTV, the Jan. 7 show showcased an experiment, involving eight people, based on research on dieting conducted by an American researcher in the United States. However, three pictures shown to indicate the effect of natto on dieting were not of the subjects taking part in the experiment.

On the show, comments attributed to the American researcher were later found to have been fictitious.

No data on the eight people's cholesterol, neutral fat and blood sugar levels was collected in the experiment. Figures for levels of isoflavone in their blood, which the show claimed to have collected after the subjects began to eat natto regularly, and blood tests conducted on the eight also were fabricated. Most of the findings on the show were made up, KTV said.

KTV admitted these wrongdoings when a weekly magazine inquired on Jan. 12 and confirmed after a series of interviews with subcontractor Japan Television Workshop Co., a Tokyo-based firm that helped make the show.

KTV said the subcontracted firm resorted to embellishing the data because an interview with the American researcher had not gone as well as had been expected. KTV will set up an investigation committee to examine the case and determine measures to prevent a recurrence.

"We are extremely sorry that we damaged viewers' trust by producing and broadcasting a program containing content that was not based on facts," Chigusa said. He added the firm also will discuss canceling the show.

The Jan. 7 program had an audience rating of 17.4 percent in the Kansai region and 14.5 percent in the Kanto region, according to Video Research Co. The show originally started in October 1996 as "Hakkutsu! Aru Aru Daijiten." In April 2004, the program changed its Japanese title and cast lineup.

(Jan. 21, 2007)

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